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Port Authority Boards Looks to Consolidate Airports, Terminals

The V.I. Port Authority’s board voted Wednesday to award a contract that would look at bringing both of the territory’s seaplane terminals into the Federal Aviation Administration’s integrated airport system.

The vote came after board members were told Wednesday that the terminals’ operator, Seaborne Airlines, owes VIPA more than $457,000 in rent.

Coming out of executive session, the board rejected a payment proposal by the airline and opted instead to send a "demand for payment," with VIPA’s staff authorized to take any "legal action necessary" to make sure the money is collected.

Meanwhile the board approved a $19,762 contract that would allow Ricondo & Associates to begin a study that would essentially make the terminals federally regulated airports, which would give the Port Authority access to $2 million annually in federal entitlement funding.

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Board Chairman Robert O’Connor explained after the meeting that the board had discussed this option before, but had not been able to move ahead because of the FAA’s restriction on terminals that have only one operator.

In a presentation during the board’s monthly Wednesday on St. Thomas, VIPA Executive Director Carlton Dowe said the study would allow the authority to look at all the issues surrounding the move, including what it would cost to make improvements at the terminals to ensure they are in compliance with federal regulations.

Dowe said it is possible to get a waiver that will allow Seaborne to remain as the exclusive operator.

The board also approved:
-a three year contract with BDO USA for $563,804 to conduct VIPA’s external audits for fiscal years 2013-2015;
-a contract with Alpha Risk Management for insurance risk services;
-a 20-year lease renewal for William Roebuck for 24.6 acres of land in Estate Negro Bay, St. Croix;
-a two-year lease with the British Virgin Islands Tourist Board and Film Commission for kiosks at the Cyril E. King Airport and the Blyden Marine Terminal (lease amount is $3,000 annually per location);
-a $40,100 contract with BioImpact for the permit applications and biological surveys needed for the Port Authority’s maintenance dredging project in the Christiansted Schooner Channel;
– and an authorization allowing Dowe to issue a request for proposals for contractors to install solar panels at VIPA property on St. Croix. The RFP also covers the expansion of the current solar system at the King Airport.

Coming out of executive session, the board authorized Down to begin discussions with the Housing Finance Authority for the purchase of land in Crown Bay, and also authorized Dowe to spend up to $50,000 to cover modifications needed for the now downsized Crown Bay Channel dredging project.

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